Mark Bauerlein

    Author Bio:
    Mark Bauerlein is Professor Emeritus of English at Emory University. His books include The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Tarcher/Penguin 2008) and Literary Criticism: An Autopsy (Pennsylvania, 1997). His essays have appeared in PMLA, Yale Review, Partisan Review, and Wilson Quarterly, and his commentaries and reviews have appeared in Education Week, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, TLS, The Weekly Standard, and Chronicle of Higher Education.


Two Answers to Political Correctness

Review of “The Assault on American Excellence” by Anthony Kronman and “Safe Enough Spaces” by Michael Roth

Protecting College Students from Uncomfortable Ideas

A review of “The Coddling of the American Mind” by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt

SPRING 2019 / VOL. 19, NO. 2

The Not-So-Golden Mean

A review of “The End of Average” by Todd Rose

WINTER 2017 / VOL. 17, NO. 1

Ready for Play Time?

A review of “The Importance of Being Little,” by Erika Christakis

Summer 2016 / Vol. 16, No. 3

High-Achieving Countries Leave America Behind

A review of “Failing Our Brightest Kids” by Chester E. Finn Jr. and 
Brandon L. Wright

SPRING 2016 / VOL. 16, NO. 2

High Marks for Games in the Classroom

A review of The Game Believes in You, by Greg Toppo

WINTER 2016 / VOL. 16, NO. 1

Disruptive Innovation in Practice

A review of Michael B. Horn’s and Heather Staker’s “Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools”

WINTER 2015 / VOL. 15, NO. 1

The Impenetrable Classroom

Mark Bauerlein reviews Larry Cuban’s “Inside the Black Box of Classroom Practice.”

WINTER 2014 / VOL. 14, NO. 1

The Courage to Act

“Radical: Fighting to Put Students First,” by Michelle Rhee, as reviewed by Mark Bauerlein

FALL 2013 / Vol. 13, No. 4

The Hazards of the Great Example

A review of Tony Wagner’s new book, Creating Innovators

SUMMER 2013 / VOL. 13, NO. 3

Culture Clash

Is American education racist?

FALL 2012 / VOL. 12, NO. 4

Hyper Hype

Will digital learning be killed by kindness?

SUMMER 2012 / VOL. 12, NO. 3

More Facts, Fewer Hopes

Evidence fails to sway in testing policies

SPRING 2012 / VOL. 12, NO. 2


Review of The Bee Eater by Richard Whitmire

Fall 2011 / Vol. 11, No. 4

Diagnosing Education Reform

Review of The Same Thing Over and Over by Frederick M. Hess

Summer 2011 / Vol. 11, No. 3

Advocating for Arts in the Classroom

Academic discipline or instrument of personal change?

Fall 2010 / Vol. 10, No. 4

Luck of the Draw

Review of The Lottery (2010), Directed by Madeleine Sackler

Fall 2010 / Vol. 10, No. 4

Reward Less, Get Less

Student performance gaps are easily explained

Fall 2009 / Vol. 9, No. 4


Teens write creatively in cyberspace but not in the classroom

Summer 2008 / Vol. 8, No. 3

Creativity Rising

Fewer slide rules, more paint brushes

Winter 2008 / Vol. 8, No. 1

Blog Posts/Multimedia

A Concluded Battle in the Curriculum Wars

Abundant research supports content-oriented curricula in the “softer” subjects of English Language Arts and social studies/history.


Strategies for Third Graders, Theories for Graduate Students

What could be more tedious and uninspiring than efforts such as “Students are taught to generate their own questions” and “Students are taught to become aware of what they do not understand”? These metacognitive strategies turn the reading experience into a stilted, halting activity, making the content students must learn a boring rehearsal. People love the humanities because of the content of them, not because of the interpretation of them.


Boredom in Class

Perhaps we should add “coping-with-boredom” to the list of college-readiness indicators, and K – 12 pedagogy should temper the quick and easy tactic of relevance.


The Me Curriculum

If a state wants its high school graduates to succeed in college and the workplace, it needs to stop telling them, “Narrative writing is all about me.”


The Arts and the Cities Need Arts Education

A new report from the National Endowment for the Arts confirms what politicians need to hear: If you do not bolster arts education classes in K-12 schools, your arts organizations will continue to lose audience.


CliffsNotes Are Too Hard

There’s a story this week in the Wall Street Journal on a new initiative by reality-show producer Mark Burnett and AOL to produce funny videos based on CliffsNotes guides to literary classics.


The Brand in the Classroom

With Google so popular and trusted and beloved, can teachers reduce the idle and distracting behaviors of the service and increase the intellectual behaviors of it?


Audio Excerpt: The Dumbest Generation

An audio excerpt from “The Dumbest Generation” by Mark Bauerlein


The College Board and Foreign Languages

Italian professors all across the country should salute the College Board and the advocates who pressed for reviving the course, including Dr. Margaret Cuomo, the Italian Language Foundation, and the Italian Government.


Not Just Which Books Teachers Teach, But How They Teach Them

When high school students in English class sit down to write a short paper on a book the odds are low that they will proceed to analyze the work in detail. Students typically engage in “reader-response” exercises or in a discussion of various contexts of the work, including the biography of the author, relevant social issues at the time of publication, and the ethnic identity of the characters.


The New and Old of Digital Learning

What stands out in a rendition of recent digital breakthroughs in learning is that it relies on some of the most routine progressivist assumptions about learning.


Arts Education Goes Activist

While serving at the National Endowment for the Arts, I spent many months working on arts education policy. While one had to admire the dedication and spirit of people scrambling to deliver the arts to young Americans, I soon concluded that their efforts to persuade funders and politicians to support arts education misplaced the emphasis.


An Apple Campus

There is an interesting development at Beverly High School in Beverly, Massachusetts, north of Boston. Parents have been informed that every student must use an Apple MacBook in his and her work.


The Mimetic Classroom

In the current issue of Education Next appears a summary by Robert Pondiscio of the philosophy and practice of Edutopia. Edutopia presents its pedagogy as cutting-edge and innovative, and its motto suggests a hard focus on evidence and feedback and outcomes. Within the article, though, appears a statement by the former executive director of the George Lucas Educational Foundation, Milton Chen, that sounds more like an a priori principle than an idea derived from experience: School life should resemble real life.


Social Justice Teaching from the Students’ Side

A few years ago I interviewed a professor of education about the training of arts teachers. She was enthusiastic about what her school was accomplishing, citing in particular its focus on social issues in the classroom. I asked her about what she does in the classroom, and she volunteered an interesting trend. The students resist her instruction, she admitted, but over the course of the semester they come around and recognize how important these lessons in social justice really are. For her, the pattern was a sign of how much the students learned, how much their awareness had broadened from Day One to the end of the semester.


Core Standards and College-Readiness

The latest version of the “Core Standards Initiative for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies & Science” bears the phrase, “Through wide and deep reading of literature and literary nonfiction of steadily increasing sophistication, students gain a reservoir of literary and cultural knowledge, references, and images.” This is precisely the kind of acknowledgment of cultural literacy that education conservatives and curricular traditionalists of various kinds have been advocating for more than two decades. Still, I think, another step needs to take place in the next round of revisions.


Career Readiness: Don’t Expect Too Much from Colleges

Employers shouldn’t expect colleges to instill the writing skills employees need. The duty falls on high schools whether they like it or not and whether it is fair or not.


Atlanta Grades

A story last week in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that fully 191 schools in the state of Georgia, 10 percent of the total number of elementary and middle schools, are up for investigation for altering test answer sheets. The next day’s story put the count at one in five Georgia public schools.


Food for Thought?

As administrators struggle to engage wayward teenagers and make learning meaningful after hours, one can imagine a school turning an unused plot of grass on the grounds into a working garden. Some students could cultivate crops while others head to football and band practice. Getting a few credits for the work wouldn’t interfere with calculus and U.S. history, either, and it might improve attitudes toward school in general. That isn’t what happened at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School in Berkeley, CA, though.


The NCTE on College Readiness

After the Common Core project released its first draft of standards for English Language Arts last summer, the National Council of Teachers of English had a “review team” issue a report on the document to be submitted to the project as it worked its way through subsequent versions. Apart from the immediate aim of steering the core standards in certain directions, the document also offers a vision of English education that strangely downplays the fundamental principle of the project, namely, college and career readiness.


The Minnesota Re-Education of Educators

Readers may have heard about recent developments of the Teacher Education Redesign Initiative at the University of Minnesota. It’s a project to revise the training of teachers, and it has infuriated conservative, libertarian, and First Amendment groups. Among the elements of the process is the Task Force for Race, Culture, Class, and Gender, which issued its recommendations in September. The Outcomes of the document read like a parody of academic identity politics, but they stand loud and clear in black and white.


We’ve Had National Standards for 15 Years

With the Council of Chief State School Officers sponsoring the creation of national standards in math and English language arts, many people are raising customary objections to the very idea of national standards. If people don’t think they can happen and please most everyone in the field, though, they’re wrong. Many readers of Education Next might be surprised to learn that we’ve had national standards in one field for 15 years.


The Providence Effect in Action

Fifty minutes into The Providence Effect, a documentary profile of Providence-St. Mel School in Chicago, an extraordinary episode unfolds. Over the years, Providence-St. Mel and its admirable founder have received up and down attention, it has a 100 percent college acceptance rate, and its ACT scores have risen steadily. But this tiny snapshot of accountability in a math classroom says it all.


“The Cartel” in New Jersey

New Jersey is #1 in spending per public school student. Where does the money go, and why so much? The answers may be found in some of the bizarre and dismaying facts and stories recounted in a new education documentary entitled “The Cartel”.


They’re #1–and They Teach To the TEST??!!

BASIS is a charter school that has struggled through neighborhood protests and funding cuts, plus the usual resistances that charter schools face, but its success speaks for itself. It’s now the subject of a documentary produced by Robert Compton.


Three Voices for English Knowledge: Hirsch, Willingham, and the AFT

Hirsch, Willingham, and the AFT are powerful voices arguing against one of the sorriest trends in English Language Arts over the years, namely, the attempt to convert it into a skills discipline that emphasizes cross-disciplinary capacities (critical thinking, “media literacy,” reading comprehension strategies, etc.) and downplays English knowledge.


A Controversy That Wasn’t

Consider this scenario. A 16-year-old boy transfers to a high school in Georgia from out of state and shows up the second day wearing a hot pink wig and high heels.


The Costs and Benefits of Remediation

Readers of Education Next may have seen a report entitled Diploma to Nowhere from Strong American Schools last year that counted up the number of high school graduates who end up in remedial courses at the next level. The figures are dismaying.


If Students Are Career-Oriented, It Doesn’t Show Up in Majors

With all the talk about workplace-readiness in education reform, one would think that students who enter college would look carefully at the coursework that leads to high-paying jobs.


More and More, School Just Isn’t ‘Meaningful’

Most educators probably aren’t surprised that more than two-thirds of high school seniors don’t recognize the value of what they have to learn.


The Real Reason Why English Educators Don’t Like Classic Reading Lists

The idea of selecting certain works for study, creating a canon of novels and poems and plays, fashioning a lineage, however multi-racial and filled with women writers it is, strikes all-too-many curriculum designers as a bad, bad idea.


The College Cruise

The New York Times this week hosted a forum on summer homework, and while I voted “Yea!” many contributors and commenters thought summer homework a terrible intrusion on June, July, and August.


The Fall of Multi-Tasking

Not so long ago people were trumpeting multi-tasking as a new way of learning and behaving, one that was rewiring our brains.


Don’t Think Too Highly of Yourself

A few years ago, in the 2006 Brown Center Report on American Education: How Well Are American Students Learning? researchers found a correlation that went against 40 years of prevailing wisdom in education circles.

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